Billion-Dollar Book Companies Are Ripping Off Public Schools | The New Republic

“Over the past decade, Silicon Valley’s tech behemoths have discreetly and methodically tightened their grip on American schools, and the pandemic has given them license to squeeze even tighter. By 2017, tens of millions of students were already using Google Chromebooks and apps for reading, writing, and turning in their work. Google Classroom now has more than 100 million users worldwide—nearly seven times the number reported in The New York Times three years ago. When we emerge from the pandemic, schools will be even more reliant on such systems. Industry is bolting an adamantine layer of technology onto the world’s classrooms, in what amounts to a stealth form of privatization….

But in practice, this convenience comes at a staggering cost. Billion-dollar companies like Follett and EBSCO are renting e-books to schools each year, rather than selling them permanent copies. By locking school districts into contracts that turn them into captive consumers, corporate tech providers are draining public education budgets that don’t have a penny to spare….

So why not shop around for a better deal? She can’t. Just as you can’t use ­iPhone apps on your Android phone, a school district’s choice of software providers locks administrators into a tangled web of agreements, training, and financial and organizational investments that publishers exploit to their advantage. California requires providers to sign a privacy agreement promising not to sell student data, further limiting options, Woodcock said, because not all providers are willing to sign….

Woodcock proposes what is surely a fair deal: Schools should be able to purchase e-books outright, rather than having to rent them. “I buy it, I own it. It doesn’t go away.”

Another obvious way to relieve the pressure on schools would be to expand the use of free public resources like the Internet Archive’s Open Library, which lends e-books on traditional library terms (you can’t download books from the Open Library; you can only borrow and read them). Early in the pandemic, the Open Library made waves by creating a temporary resource, the National Emergency Library, dropping restrictions on the number of people who could access a given title simultaneously. With bookstores, libraries, and schools closed all over the world, Internet Archive staff reasoned, students needed emergency access to books.

The suit seeks to destroy the Open Library altogether. But what publishers truly want is the end of ownership. If they win, books will someday become like movies on Netflix—something that schools, and all of us, will have to keep paying for forever….”

 

Internet Archive lawyer Lila Bailey leads a new phase of the battle over copyright | Fortune

“The case involves the Internet Archive’s decision to create a temporary “National Emergency Library” at the height of the pandemic’s first wave—a service that expanded how many e-books clients could borrow simultaneously. The publishing industry sued, saying the non-profit was handing out digital books without permission.

 

The Internet Archive case has received national attention—a widely shared article in The Nation described it as “publishers taking the Internet to court”—and has drawn attention to the reality that, as library branches close over COVID concerns, patrons must often wait 10 weeks or more to borrow the digital version of a best-seller….”

Pop! Public-Private Partnerships and the Digitization of the Textual and Cultural Record

“This paper follows these threads to investigate a series of case studies of electronic access to books and cultural heritage, each incorporating some notion of a public-private partnership and some notion of the importance of open access or public good agendas, using as case studies projects like the HathiTrust’s Digital Library, Google Books, and Microsoft’s partnership with the British Library in the ill-fate Live Search Books project. The paper asks how the principles of open social scholarship contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of digitization as a cultural practice and asks how a better understanding of the networks, partnerships, and paperwork (agreements, policies etc) of digitization could inform developments in open social scholarship. …”

Publisher Lawsuit Against Internet Archive Puts Future of Book Ownership In Question | WDET

“The newly-launched library serviced a temporary collection of books — about 4 million in total, many in the public domain — with a targeted focus of supporting remote teaching, research activities and independent scholarship. For this service, students paid nothing. 

This Open Library is now at the center of a lawsuit filed by major publishing corporations, including HarperCollins, Hatchett, Wiley and Random House, against the Internet Archives, a nonprofit website, alleging that the Open Library concept is a “mass copyright infringement.”

The lawsuit is scheduled for a federal court trial in 2021.  The publishers are seeking to have the Open Library permanently shut down….

In an op-ed written for The Nation, journalist and new media pioneer Maria Bustillos took a critical look at the lawsuit, the concept of an open library and what ownership means when major publishers seek to change what it means to own a book….”

#EmpoweringLibraries – join the campaign – Internet Archive Blogs

“Libraries have a crucial role in a democratic society. They ensure that marginalized groups have free access to books and that knowledge is preserved for future generations. 

But this role is under threat. We urgently need your support to protect the right of libraries to continue doing their vital work. 

Borrowing digital books is a lifeline for people who cannot physically reach a library, such as those in rural communities or affected by an emergency, as well as for people with print disabilities. 

Libraries rely on a well-established practice known as controlled digital lending to reach these communities. The practice allows libraries to lend out each book they own in either a physical or a digitized format.

Digitizing books also enables libraries to fulfill their age-old role as guardians of cultural posterity. As library shelf space grows increasingly limited due to lack of funding, many valuable collections are saved from landfill only by being digitally archived. 

A new lawsuit by four corporate publishers against the Internet Archive attempts to outlaw controlled digital lending. Libraries would no longer be able to lend digital versions of their books or digitize their collections. …”

Internet Archive Responds to Piracy Charges | CCC’s Beyond the Book

“According to the filing, says [Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly], the Internet Archive “does what libraries have always done: buy, collect, preserve, and share our common culture. Its untested legal theory of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) is [allegedly] a good faith and legal effort specifically designed to ‘mirror traditional library lending online.’

[Still quoting Albanese:] “Contrary to the publishers’ accusations, the filing states, the Internet Archive, and the hundreds of libraries that support CDL, are not pirates or thieves, they are librarians, striving to serve their patrons online just as they have done for centuries in the brick-and-mortar world.” …”

Judge Sets Tentative Trial Date for November 2021 – Internet Archive Blogs

“This week, a federal judge issued this scheduling order, laying out the road map that may lead to a jury trial in the copyright lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest publishers against the Internet Archive. Judge John G. Koeltl has ordered all parties to be ready for trial by November 12, 2021. He set a deadline of December 1, 2020, to notify the court if the parties are willing to enter settlement talks with a magistrate judge. 

Attorneys for the Internet Archive have met with representatives for the publishers, but were unable to reach an agreement. “We had hoped to settle this needless lawsuit,” said Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive’s founder and Digital Librarian. “Right now the publishers are diverting attention and resources from where they should be focused: on helping students during this pandemic.” 

The scheduling order lays out this timeline:

Discovery must be completed by September 20, 2021;
Dispositive motions must be submitted by October 8, 2021;
Pretrial orders/motions must be submitted by October 29, 2021;
Parties must be ready for trial on 48 hours notice by November 12, 2021…..

Publishers Weekly Senior Writer Andrew Albanese has been covering the story from the beginning. In a July 31st Beyond the Book podcast for the Copyright Clearance Center, Albanese shared his candid opinions about the lawsuit. “If this was to be a blow out, open-and-shut case for the publishers, what do the publishers and authors get?” Albanese asked. “I’d say nothing.”

“Honestly, a win in court on this issue will not mean more sales for books for publishers. Nor will it protect any authors or publisher from the vagaries of the Internet,” the Publishers Weekly journalist continued. “Here we are in the streaming age, 13 years after the ebook market took off, and we’re having a copyright battle, a court battle over crappy PDFs of mostly out-of-print books? I just don’t think it’s a good look for the industry.” …”

Publishers Are Taking the Internet to Court

“The trial is set for next year in federal court, with initial disclosures for discovery scheduled to take place next week. The publishers’ “prayer for relief” seeks to destroy the Open Library’s existing books, and to soak the Internet Archive for a lot of money; in their response, the Archive is looking to have its opponents’ claims denied in full, its legal costs paid, and “such other and further relief as the Court deems just and equitable.” But what’s really at stake in this lawsuit is the idea of ownership itself—what it means not only for a library but for anyone to own a book….

The Internet Archive is a tech partner to hundreds of libraries, including the Library of Congress, for whom it develops techniques for the stewardship of digital content. It helps them build their own Web-based collections with tools such as Archive-It, which is currently used by more than 600 organizations including universities, museums, and government agencies, as well as libraries, to create their own searchable public archives. The Internet Archive repairs broken links on Wikipedia—by the million. It has collected thousands of early computer games, and developed online emulators so they can be played on modern computers. It hosts collections of live music performances, 78s and cylinder recordings, radio shows, films and video. I am leaving a lot out about its groundbreaking work in making scholarly materials more accessible, its projects to expand books to the print-disabled—too many undertakings and achievements to count….

For-profit publishers like HarperCollins or Hachette don’t perform the kind of work required to preserve a cultural posterity. Publishers are not archivists. They obey the dictates of the market. They keep books in print based on market considerations, not cultural ones. …

publishers would like to see libraries obliged to license, not to own, books—that is, continue to pay for the same book again and again. That’s what this lawsuit is really about. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that publishers took advantage of the pandemic to achieve what they had not been able to achieve previously: to turn the library system into a “reading as a service” operation from which they can squeeze profits forever….”

Publishers Sue Internet Archive over Open Library

“Is the Internet Archive’s Open Library a vital channel that democratizes information access, or is it a large-scale digital piracy operation? That’s the question raised in a lawsuit filed by four major book publishers against the nonprofit information vault’s Open Library online-lending project.

The Internet Archive perhaps is best known for its Wayback Machine®, which allows users to go back in time and access a 10-petabyte collection of internet history—that’s over 330 billion web pages. For lawyers, the website and its records have been a unique source of information in some legal disputes, as they enable users to see web history records dating back to 1996.

The Internet Archive’s Open Library project scans libraries’ collections and allows users to digitally borrow books under a system of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). This limits access to the actual number of physical books and puts users on a waiting list if a book is already checked out.

In March 2020, the Internet Archive temporarily eased Open Library’s lending restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic as part of its National Emergency Library project. The change enabled multiple people to check out the same digital copy of a book at the same time in light of physical libraries being shuttered. In response, Hachette, Penguin Random House, Wiley and HarperCollins® filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York federal court on June 1 against the Internet Archive, calling both the regular Open Library and the National Emergency Library “digital piracy on an industrial scale.” The Internet Archive ended the Emergency Library project on June 16, but the lawsuit remains in place.

The publishers allege that the Internet Archive’s business model involves freely disseminating scanned copies of physical books through its website, which is “parasitic and illegal” and exploits the work of authors and publishers without paying any of the costs associated with creating the books. It asks the court for damages for publishers’ copyrighted works, and both a preliminary and permanent injunction of the Internet Archive’s digitization and lending processes. It also asks the court to order all unlawful copies of derivative works to be destroyed—more than 1.5 million volumes.

In its response to the lawsuit, the Internet Archive denies it has violated copyright laws and says its CDL program is fundamentally the same as traditional library lending and is protected by U.S. copyright law’s fair use doctrine because it serves the public interest in preservation, access and research. And in a blog post, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle called on the publishers to drop the lawsuit and to work with his group to “help solve the pressing challenges to access to knowledge during this pandemic.”

While the lawsuit only focuses on the Internet Archive’s Open Library and doesn’t take issue with the Wayback Machine or digitization of materials in the public domain, the fear is that a victory for the publishers could financially harm the Internet Archive, and thus destroy the Wayback Machine….”

Publishers Sue Internet Archive over Open Library

“Is the Internet Archive’s Open Library a vital channel that democratizes information access, or is it a large-scale digital piracy operation? That’s the question raised in a lawsuit filed by four major book publishers against the nonprofit information vault’s Open Library online-lending project.

The Internet Archive perhaps is best known for its Wayback Machine®, which allows users to go back in time and access a 10-petabyte collection of internet history—that’s over 330 billion web pages. For lawyers, the website and its records have been a unique source of information in some legal disputes, as they enable users to see web history records dating back to 1996.

The Internet Archive’s Open Library project scans libraries’ collections and allows users to digitally borrow books under a system of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). This limits access to the actual number of physical books and puts users on a waiting list if a book is already checked out.

In March 2020, the Internet Archive temporarily eased Open Library’s lending restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic as part of its National Emergency Library project. The change enabled multiple people to check out the same digital copy of a book at the same time in light of physical libraries being shuttered. In response, Hachette, Penguin Random House, Wiley and HarperCollins® filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York federal court on June 1 against the Internet Archive, calling both the regular Open Library and the National Emergency Library “digital piracy on an industrial scale.” The Internet Archive ended the Emergency Library project on June 16, but the lawsuit remains in place.

The publishers allege that the Internet Archive’s business model involves freely disseminating scanned copies of physical books through its website, which is “parasitic and illegal” and exploits the work of authors and publishers without paying any of the costs associated with creating the books. It asks the court for damages for publishers’ copyrighted works, and both a preliminary and permanent injunction of the Internet Archive’s digitization and lending processes. It also asks the court to order all unlawful copies of derivative works to be destroyed—more than 1.5 million volumes.

In its response to the lawsuit, the Internet Archive denies it has violated copyright laws and says its CDL program is fundamentally the same as traditional library lending and is protected by U.S. copyright law’s fair use doctrine because it serves the public interest in preservation, access and research. And in a blog post, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle called on the publishers to drop the lawsuit and to work with his group to “help solve the pressing challenges to access to knowledge during this pandemic.”

While the lawsuit only focuses on the Internet Archive’s Open Library and doesn’t take issue with the Wayback Machine or digitization of materials in the public domain, the fear is that a victory for the publishers could financially harm the Internet Archive, and thus destroy the Wayback Machine….”